Inflammatory tinea pedis/manuum masquerading as bacterial cellulitis

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2002 Nov;156(11):1149-52. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.156.11.1149.


Background: Tinea pedis and tinea manuum in children are more common than previously recognized. Clinical presentations of dermatophyte infections may vary in children and may be difficult to diagnose.

Objective: To show the necessity of potassium hydroxide preparations and/or fungal cultures in assessing suspicious cases of cellulitis in children who may have dermatophyte infections.

Patients: We describe 4 children with inflammatory tinea pedis or tinea manuum who were initially misdiagnosed as having bacterial cellulitis.

Intervention: A potassium hydroxide examination was performed on 3 patients. Fungal cultures were performed on 2 patients.

Results: Inflammatory/bullous dermatophyte infections were detected by potassium hydroxide examination in all 4 patients and all 4 children successfully responded to topical antifungal therapy.

Conclusions: These cases demonstrate that inflammatory tinnea pedis/manuum can masquerade as cellulitis in children. Early potassium hydroxide examination can allow appropriate antifungal treatment to be initiated before fungal culture results are finalized.

MeSH terms

  • Cellulitis / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Hand Dermatoses / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxides*
  • Impetigo / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Mycology / methods*
  • Potassium Compounds*
  • Tinea / diagnosis*
  • Tinea Pedis / diagnosis*


  • Hydroxides
  • Potassium Compounds
  • potassium hydroxide